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Unitus seed fund invests in, gets SEBI approval to invest in BoP startups in India

Unitus imgGoCoop solutions and services, the company behind – a Social Marketplace for Co-operatives and Community-based enterprises to list and sell their produce online, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Indian Angel Network (IAN) and Unitus seed fund. IAN member Nagaraja Prakasam led this round of investment.

The capital raised will be primarily used by the company to build on its marketplace, among other things.

The bangalore based startup works as a platform to connect co-operatives with suppliers and wholesalers. Its services include a directory listing service, micro-website hosting service with trade enquires, eCommerce service with product catalogue, online ordering, payments, delivery tracking and inventory management along with social networking services to connect buyers and sellers.

The site already has close to 2,500 co-operatives as its members, and the marketplace offers products in five major categories including arts & crafts, apparel & accessories, home & garden, food & beverages, and industrial products.

According to founder Siva Devireddy, the company aims at helping its members – who are mostly low-income producers across areas like agriculture, food and handicrafts – get a better price and fair business dealings with access to technology and national and international markets.

Further, Will Poole, Managing Partner of Unitus Seed Fund, believes that GoCoop’s technological platform along with its marketing services, has the potential to raise the standard of living of low-income producers in rural India

Unitus Seed fund itself has raised its second fund of $3.3 million, and launched Unitus Seed Fund India, a seed stage investment fund that will provide an opportunity for Indian investors to invest in new companies that are working on serving the low-income markets of india, instead of conventional venture capital investments.

The new fund has also gotten approval from India’s securities regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), to raise upto USD 9-12 Mn from Indian investors and start its investment activities. It aims to invest in over 30 base of the economic pyramid (BoP) startups. These are companies that focus on building scalable businesses to deliver innovative, affordable products & services to 100 crore (1 billion) low-income people in India and help improve their livelihood

Along with the investment in GoCoop, Unitus has also announced investing in Welcare Health Systems Private Ltd, an affordable eye screening services company. The company sets up an Internet-connected retinal screening device inside existing diabetes centers, general hospitals, and other health centers. Patient information, along with the retinal images, is then transferred online to Welcare’s certified ophthalmologists for review and diagnostics. The results and recommendations are then shared to the patient via staff at the facility they visited.

The startup is based in Chennai with operations in multiple cities in India. The capital raised will be used to expand operations within existing cities as well as to new cities and towns in India.

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